New Genomic Techniques And A New Era For AgrifoodBY PIETRO PAGANINI

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Italy, with its rich gastronomic and agricultural tradition, has the opportunity to lead a new era of agrifood by embracing the potential of new genomic techniques (NGTs). However, to do so effectively, it is essential for the European Union to adopt clear regulations based on science and aimed at promoting competitiveness through global standards. Only through international collaboration and adequate regulations can Made in Italy agrifood truly benefit from the opportunities offered by NGTs, while ensuring the protection of human health and the environment.

WHAT ARE NGTs?             

NGTs are innovative tools that can play a crucial role in increasing the sustainability and resilience of the food system, supporting the goals of the European Green Deal and the “Farm to Fork” strategy. These techniques allow for the development of improved plant varieties, resilient to climate change and resistant to harmful organisms. With precision and efficiency, fewer fertilizers and pesticides are used while ensuring higher yields.

Last week, the ENVI Commission in the European Parliament approved the amendment to the regulation governing these techniques.

In a world increasingly focused on innovation, the adoption of clear and adequate regulations is a crucial step, especially for Italian agrifood. We hope that this new intervention by Brussels can promote competition through a global standard, promoting international cooperation and allowing Italy to emerge as a reference point in the responsible and innovative use of NGTs in the agrifood sector. The application of these technologies offers revolutionary prospects that can enhance the quality of products typical of the Mediterranean diet, positioning Italy as a leader in the responsible adoption of advanced solutions.

NGTs offer a series of fundamental advantages for the Italian agrifood sector, with significant impacts on crops and typical food products of the Mediterranean diet.
  • Improvement of Crop Resilience: NGTs present a revolutionary potential for improving the resilience of agricultural crops. In a context where climate change is increasingly evident, the ability to develop plant varieties adapted to new climatic conditions is essential to ensure sustainable and high-quality food production. 
  • Environmental Sustainability: Through the application of these genomic techniques, it is possible to develop plant varieties that require fewer fertilizers and pesticides. This not only reduces the environmental impact of agriculture but also aligns with the goals of the European Green Deal, promoting sustainable agricultural practices that respect the environment.
  • Increased Yields: NGTs allow for the precise and efficient development of plant varieties that ensure higher yields. This results not only in increased productivity for Italian farmers but also contributes to ensuring the continuous availability of high-quality products for consumers.
  • Preservation of Food Traditions: Introducing NGTs responsibly allows for the preservation of Italian food traditions. The ability to improve plant varieties without compromising the distinctive characteristics of products typical of the Mediterranean diet is a fundamental advantage for the preservation of Italian gastronomic culture.

NGTs are already authorized in other countries, such as Argentina, Israel, and the United Kingdom, which are fundamental players and competitors in advanced agrifood. Without a European law, we would have risked laboratories, researchers, and investments leaving our territory in favor of these other markets. Brussels’ decision, on the contrary, was finally made by listening to science and remaining immune to ideological approaches that, in other contexts, have proven ineffective. In the EU, this time, it is appropriate to say: and yet it moves!


Article published in Italian on HuffPost Italia 

Image credits: courtesy of HuffPost  >>>

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